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Information
Description Edit | History

Wallace Smith ( December 30, 1888 - January 31, 1937) was a book illustrator, comic artist, reporter, author, and screenwriter. Wallace was one of the finest artists in the newspapers business and switched back and forth between cartooning and writing. He became Washington correspondent for the Chicago American at the age of 20, remaining with that newspaper for over a decade. According to the book The Madhouse on Madison Street, Smith was "one of the most colorful reporters who ever worked for the Hearst papers," and was born with the last name of Schmidt, which he changed to Smith during World War I.

He was sent to Mexico and did illustrated reporting on several campaigns of Pancho Villa against the Carranza regime. In 1920 he originated the Joe Blow comic panel feature for the Chicago American. In 1921-22 he was assigned to California to cover the Roscoe Arbuckle trials and the William Desmond Taylor murder case. The articles bylined by Smith (for the Chicago American) and Eddie Doherty (for the Chicago Tribune) were so inflammatory that Under-Sheriff Eugene W. Biscailuz, fearing for their safety, offered to provide them each with a bodyguard, but they both declined. In 1923–1924 he contributed with his illustrations (using the nickname "Vulgus") for The Chicago Literary Times, a magazine done in the format and style of a tabloid scandal sheet, co founded by Ben Hech and Maxwell Bodenheim with whom he previously collaborated illustrating their books.

Smith moved to Hollywood embarking on successful, decade-long, screenplay-writing career. His services were in high demand - he wrote or contributed to twenty-six screenplays, often enhancing them with detailed scene sketches. Smith's work included screen adaptations of his novels The Captain Hates the Sea and The Gay Desperado and also Two Arabian Knights, The Lost Squadron, Friends and Lovers.

In 1935, Smith's novel Bessie Cotter about a prostitute's life on the streets of Chicago was judged indecent in England and the publisher fined the equivalent of $1,000. It was published a year earlier in the United States.

He died of a heart attack in his home in Hollywood on January 31, 1937, and was survived by his wife, Echo Smith.

Source: Wikipedia, "Wallace Smith (illustrator)", available under the CC-BY-SA License.

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